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Going After Lou Dobbs

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, February 16 2010

Credit: Chong + Koster

Writing in Politics Magazine, Josh Koster and Tyler Davis describe the microtargeted ad campaign they helped run against Lou Dobbs:

We needed to gain and keep the press’ attention, so we deployed digital paid media to target media employees specifically. The Facebook feature “workplace targeting” was our primary weapon. We targeted all CNN/AOL-Time Warner employees with 500 points per day (the Facebook max). We ran dozens of different ads, testing message hooks from “Why did you let Lou Dobbs broadcast from a hate rally?” to “Why is CNN profiting off racism?” We even called out CNN’s on-air talent by name: “Hey Soledad O’Brian, why don’t you ask Lou Dobbs what it’s like to be Latino in America,” to ensure the CNN staff was sending screenshots between departments. We also workplace targeted the staff of the 25 biggest political and national news outlets in the country.

The anti-Lou Dobbs drive that culminated with him getting dropped from CNN seemed to really benefit from the fact that a considerable number of people were, in a wide-spread sort of way, getting fed up with Dobbs' increasing vehemence -- and volume -- over the last months and years of his stint at CNN. Rather than leaving folks to yell at the TV and throw pillows at Dobbs' face, the campaign gave them a vehicle for those passions.

So in addition to the nuances in online microtargeting technique that we can take away from the Dobbs episode, one other lesson to take away from this action might be that it helps to give loud voice to what people are already thinking and perhaps even grumbling about, but not really saying outloud.

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